The atypical 2020 season is set to feature another stunning chapter on Wednesday (7) when Uganda’s recently-minted world 5000m record-holder Joshua Cheptegei takes aim at the world 10,000m record at the Turia Stadium in Valencia, Spain.
Organisers of the event, dubbed the NN Valencia World Record Day, released details of Cheptegei’s assault on the 26:17.53 mark set by Kenenisa Bekele in Brussels 15 years ago, the longest standing men’s 10,000m world record in history.
Fans from around the world can watch the races on YouTube.
Dutchman Roy Hoornweg will be the first pacemaker, gunning to cover the opening 1500 metres in 3:55 before Australia’s Matthew Ramsden takes command. His duties include bringing the leaders through 3000 metres in 7:52 before handing the virtual pacing baton to Kenyan Nicolas Kimeli who is targeting 13:05 at 5000 metres. The talented 22-year-old is in strong form, clocking career bests of 12:51.78 for 5000m on 2 August in Monaco and 26:58.01 for 10,000m on 19 September in the Dutch city of Leiden. More recently, he won the 5000m at the Kip Keino Classic World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in Nairobi on Saturday (3).
Although Kimeli will try to reach the 6000-metre point, Cheptegei will likely race against the clock for much of the second half but will also have a wavelight as a reference over the waning kilometres.
He also has the backing of legend Haile Gebrselassie, who believes that Cheptegei is fully capable of breaking 26 minutes.
"He really is a superstar. He's a gifted athlete, and simply, he's the best," Gebrselassie told The Olympic Channel. "I've seen it - not just his 5000 metres in Monaco. Compared to the time he ran in the 5000, the 10,000 is not that hard. I worry that if he runs under 26 minutes it will be very difficult for others to break it."
The race is scheduled for 21:55 local time (GMT +2).
Gidey targets fast 5000m clocking
A women’s 5000m is also on the programme with Letesenbet Gidey given the spotlight during her quest for a fast performance.
The 22-year-old Ethiopian enjoyed a fantastic 2019 campaign, racing to 10,000 silver at the World Championships in Doha six months after bagging bronze at the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. Gidey has also requested a brisk pace.
Spain’s in-form Esther Guerrero will act as the opening pacesetter, shooting to cover the opening 1500 metres in 4:15. The 30-year-old has this year lowered her PBs at 800m (1:59:22), 1000m (2:35.64) and 1500m (4:03.13). The second pacemaker will be of the highest calibre in the guise of Kenya’s 3000m steeplechase world champion and record holder Beatrice Chepkoech who ran a 3000m lifetime best of 8:22.92 in Doha on 25 September. But the Kenyan ace will have to perform at her best with the playbook handing her an 8:30-8:35 target for 3000 metres.
Gidey is targeting her lifetime best of 14:23.14 set in Rabat two years ago. Gidey’s only appearance this year came on 14 August when she finished runner-up in the Monaco 5000m in 14:26.57, the second-fastest performance of her career.
The women’s 5000m is scheduled for 21:34 (GMT +2) immediately before the men’s 10,000m.
Weather forecasters predict pleasant conditions with temperatures of 25 C at the start of the event.
The NN Valencia World Record Day and jointly sponsored by local club Sociedad Deportiva Correcaminos and the NN racing team.
Emeterio Valiente for World Athletics